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Canton Historical Society's efforts to save depot continue
By Barb Kerns News-Record
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 4:20 AM
Duane Benson of Lanesboro, a former NFL linebacker and state senator, shared humor, insight and compliments with those attending the Harmony Area Community Foundation’s spring fundraiser last Monday.
A brain storming session was held on Monday, April 14, at the Canton Community Center to provide information and gather input from interested community members on the restoration of the Canton depot.
Prior to the sharing of ideas, Chairperson Kathie Haynes and her husband, LeRoy Haynes, gave an overview of the Canton Historical Society as well as the restoration project planned for the depot building.
The Canton Historical Society is beginning its third year of existence and has about 40 members. There is a chairperson and two trustees, LeRoy Haynes and Bob Coons.
The society promotes the Mitson Museum and is also completing video recordings of Canton senior citizens' memories of the Canton community.
Their newest and biggest effort to date is the proposed restoration of the Canton depot.
LeRoy Haynes told the group gathered that the Canton depot was one of the last narrow gauge depots still sitting on its original site, still in existence.
He noted there was another in the area, located in Prosper, but this building is on private property.
Currently, the Canton depot is owned by Larry Huber, formerly from Austin, Minn., but currently living in Los Angeles, Calif.
Huber is a lover of trains and was reported to have completed significant research on the Canton depot and train system as well as on the city of Canton itself.
Huber is reported to be in the process of transferring ownership of the Canton depot to the Canton Historical Society, now that it has acquired a tax-exempt status.
Huber was reported to have started the process of obtaining an artist's rendition of the depot building.
Members of the historical society stated there would obviously be no funds spent on the project until the transfer is complete, but the group is anticipating that once transferred, there will be a need for significant funds to make the restoration a reality.
The need to move the building off its current location in order to build a foundation, and then reposition the building on its new home was discussed.
The options of a slab foundation versus the need for a basement were also discussed.
Locations of city water and sewer lines were determined to be near to the building with fairly easy access.
All costs would need to be determined and an eventual floor plan will need to be determined once the answer to how the building will be used is answered.
Also to be decided is whether the building will be used year-round or would be operational as a seasonal attraction.
Multiple ideas were presented and put down in writing. The attendees were then split into smaller groups to review the ideas presented and prioritize them in order of importance.
The consensus of the group in attendance had the same main goal as the representatives of the historical society members present; to restore the building as close as possible to its original condition.
Ideas in that area included the possibility of introducing a section of track into the landscaping, reconstructing the ticket sales area with original artifacts, and developing a museum environment with Canton train history as its main focus.
Other ideas presented included providing a public bathroom location, outdoor landscaping and developing a network with other area depots and a webpage and printed material to promote the location.
The main area of discussion was the need to raise funds to complete the project and get the Canton community involved in the effort.
Grant writing was discussed, to be set into motion once a plan of action is determined. Kathie Haynes stated Larry Huber's daughter may be able to assist with that process.
Also mentioned was the need for donations of money and time as well as ideas for obtaining both large and small donations; possibly selling bricks along with other donor's recognition ideas.
The session came to a close with a long list of ideas to take back to the Canton Historical Society.
The hope of the group is to be able to have significant progress underway by the August Canton Day Off celebration.
Any persons interested in joining the Canton Historical Society or making donations towards the project should contact Kathie Haynes at (507) 743-8338 or the Canton city clerk's office at (507) 743-5000.
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